Fewer Americans filed for unemployment during the week ending Oct. 20, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. A total of 369,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a decline of 23,000. Economists polled by Bloomberg had expected a drop in unemployment filings to 370,000 from the prior week's revised total of 392,000.
While the decline is viewed as a positive indicator of a slowly stabilizing domestic economy, overall there has been little movement in the nation's hiring for several weeks. According to economists', an uncertain economic environment in the U.S. and abroad has caused many employers to hold off on hiring, electing to maintain existing staffing levels. However, the pending "fiscal cliff" -- a bevy of tax increases and cuts in government spending in 2013 -- is also a factor in the decision to delay hiring new workers.
According to Millan Mulraine, a senior strategist with TD Securities, the U.S. job market is "likely to be in a holding pattern because of the fiscal cliff." Going forward, Mulraine believes that "some of that uncertainty would dissipate and be consistent with improving jobs prospects."